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MD Helicopters hopes to build 50 aircraft a year by 2025, as its new leadership team laid out their plan to rebuild the storied MD brand on the eve of HAI Heli-Expo 2023 after a tumultuous year of change for the manufacturer.
“It has had a bit of a rocky heritage, but the bones of the company have always been great,” MD president and CEO Brad Pedersen told media during a pre-show press conference.
“The product has always been great. The people working there have always been great. We just need to, I think, focus on the right things.”
This focus, primarily, is on aftermarket support and making sure it has spare parts availability for the current fleet of 1,700 in-service MD aircraft flying around the globe.
The company plans to have increased stock levels of the 702 most-requested parts by the end of the year, and has made an eight-digit investment in its parts inventory.
Pedersen said the fixes required by the company were relatively simple. “We need to support the customer, get spares, get repair and overhaul turn times down to a decent level — and then look at refreshing the product line.”
The details of that refresh are being kept close to the company’s chest for now, but Pedersen said, in the short term, operators could expect to see enhancements from rotor blade manufacturers Van Horn Aviation and Helicopter Technology Company that will offer performance improvements and noise reduction.
MD 500E to F-model conversions are also in high demand, Pedersen said. Four are planned for this year, but the company is working with the Federal Aviation Administration to transform the conversion to a technical bulletin. This would allow MD Authorized Service Centers to perform the upgrade, rather than requiring aircraft to be shipped to MD’s headquarters in Mesa, Arizona, as is currently the case. MD hopes to complete this process in the third quarter of 2023.
In terms of new aircraft production, the company is focusing on the MD 530F and the militarized version of the type — the Cayuse Warrior.
The future for the MD 902, MD 600N, and MD 520N lines is unclear — as it is for the NOTAR anti-torque system. The 902 production line has been “dormant for eight to 10 years” said Pedersen.